Monday, January 12, 2009

If Ignatieff Is A Great Leader

Decisions in regards to if the party elites are right or wrong on appointing Michael Ignatieff, much to my dismay, will depend only on if he wins or losses and not until then.

If Michael Ignatieff fails as Liberal leader then the Liberal Party may suffer continuing electoral defeat; if Michael Ignatieff proves a successful Liberal leader then the precedent that party elites can force an elected Leader out to appoint their own choice is strengthened.

If Michael Ignatieff fails as leader, party elites would be more than severely rebuked for their attacks on democracy, but would be alienated from the party and the greater membership would have to examine their ideology or the party would perish. If Michael Ignatieff succeeds as leader the caucus and national executive, in ousting Dion and installing Ignatieff, will be shown to have acted at least in some way correctly and be justified, but their extreme power will continue to threaten our party's democracy.

Though the options are not as limited as I lay them out here to be, my point is many Liberals make their decisions in this fashion. They do not judge based on the processes, but on the results. They don't care about the means, but the ends. Decisions in regards to if the party elites are right or wrong on appointing Michael Ignatieff, much to my dismay, will depend only on if he wins or losses and not until then.

22 comments:

Steve V said...

I'm just curious, if Ignatieff's installation as party leader is so at odds with the grassroots, why have we seen such feeble resistance from said rank and file? Oh sure, some are upset, but really, it's pretty quiet with the party membership overall, so it sort of suggests that the move has at least passive approval. I'll be waiting for all the elitist protests, as Ignatieff "listens" to Liberals across the country. Methinks the silence will be deafening, which is a good reflection of the majority rank and file view. The dichotomy you present doesn't really exist.

KC said...

The fact that the rank and file has more or less acquiesced to Ignatieff's coup is probably more a negative reflection on the submissive, sheep-like tendencies of said rank and file than a positive reflection on Ignatieff.

The Pontificator said...

"...why have we seen such feeble resistance from said rank and file?"

Because it is not resistance that is happening, nor called for. There are many, many "grassroots" who have spoken to the Party about how they feel about, yes, the process that brought us here, by resigning Laurier Club and Victory Fund memberships and even letting Party memberships expire. There are many, many discussions happenning in groups large and small, amongst profile and non-profile rank and file. But none or at least very few are resistant to the new leadership itself, just how we got it. "Blame", if it is to be assessed, is not accorded to Mr. Ignatieff, but to the weak "institutions" within the Party.

A "listening" leader will no doubt hear this call loud and clear. And one (only one, because there are many other valid ones) measure of the new leadership will be its willingness to ensure that the Party is strengthened and increasingly principle-based. Now that would be a legacy that might actually make the December sham worthwhile and somewhat more justifiable.

Finally on this point, I would venture a guess that many rak and file are not acting in a publicly vocal manner, but more privately and entre-nous, exactly so as not to be labelled "resisters".

RuralSandi said...

And the way Dion was appointed was any better?

How many weeks, months or whatever are you going to whine and moan and groan.

Tiresome and useless at this point in time.

I know many (Liberal) people who didn't like Dion and weren't prone to Rae who are truly very happy - some didn't vote in the last election but are anxious to do so now. Yup, regular, rural, grassroots people.

The Pontificator said...

"whatever" = years, to some. Some who don't want to be voting only based on leaders - who wish the movement they would like to believe in was more than about the ideas or behaviour of one person.

And, yes, Dion's election was certainly slightly better than this.

Steve V said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve V said...

"the process that brought us here, by resigning Laurier Club and Victory Fund memberships and even letting Party memberships expire."

I heard VF memberships are way up. Most reasonable people understand the process wasn't ideal, but necessary, given the circumstances. The party needs reform, one member one vote to start, but really I'm quite happy the way the vast majority have accepted Iggy as legitimate. That's the reality, and if you want to use VF membership, and others, it will undercut your point, not endorse it.

Sandi

Part of the problem for Stephane, only 1 in 6 "rank and file" Liberals wanted him as leader, but our crazy system produced a bizarre result.

KC said...

Most reasonable people understand the process wasn't ideal, but necessary, given the circumstances.

Im astonished at the apologists for the process. Its a dangerous precedent that every time a situation is 'difficult' and less than 'ideal' we can do an end run around democratic processes. We could have made due with a impartial interim leader, which didnt have to be Dion, until May.

Let be honest about what really happened: Ignatieff's supporters in caucus and on the national exec used their power to choose an interim leader to foist upon the membership the candidate they preferred.

Part of the problem for Stephane, only 1 in 6 "rank and file" Liberals wanted him as leader, but our crazy system produced a bizarre result.

Only 1 in 3 members of the "rank in file" chose Ignatieff. A "crazy system" is one that gives contenders with a plurality the win.

KC said...

Im sorry... Less than 1/3... Less than 3/10.

Steve V said...

Okay KC, so twice as many grassroots Liberals wanted Ignatieff. Point taken.

"Im astonished at the apologists for the process."

I'm relieved, now were focused on getting the party in shape, rather than months of sniping that would have resulted in Ignatieff anyways. Oh sorry, just being truthful, guy was a juggernaut this time around.

The Pontificator said...

Big difference between accepting - a result, and accepting it as legitimate. I too think people are generally happy with Ignatieff (don't know on what basis you can claim a "vast majority"), but agree with KC many are not prepared to be happy about the party's behaviour and justifications.

Keep in mind that those people who did resign various supports for the Party were actually doing that - supporting the Party during very difficult times ...they weren't trying to squeeze someone who was "less than ideal" out by not supporting the Party financially and otherwise. So if they resigned these supports, it was because the Party didn't give them any support back. Nada to do with the new leader, but to repeat, to do with an institution that allowed this to happen.

So those who are joining, may be joining because of Ignatieff, but just as easily could be because it's not Dion by your logic. And, I would say, most of those were lapsed donors anyway, so we haven't yet hit a net increase.

KC said...

Okay KC, so twice as many grassroots Liberals wanted Ignatieff.

Not quite twice, and neither were wanted by greater than 50%. Giving it to the guy with the plurality is to ignore the fact that those who supported another candidate may have a second choice. More people voted for candidates other than Ignatieff. I suspect (admittedly I have no polling data) that a preferential OMOV system in 2006 would be more likely to produce a Dion victory than an Ignatieff victory.

I'm relieved, now were focused on getting the party in shape

How nice for you. Many of us were more concerned about the direction of the party than "getting [it]... in shape". The Liberal Party, as I knew it, doesnt exist with Michael Ignatieff as its leader.

rather than months of sniping that would have resulted in Ignatieff anyways. Oh sorry, just being truthful, guy was a juggernaut this time around.

If I were a betting man I would have placed my money on Ignatieff too, but we simply didnt know that and its not the place of the elites in caucus and the national exec to make that determination.

The "sniping" was necessary for those of us for whom Ignatieff is COMPLETELY unacceptable to make our case to the rest of the party. We were robbed of that opportunity.

RuralSandi said...

Oh for God's sake, move on. This is just petty. At the convention propose resolutions for the change you want.

You know, when Dion won - I did not support him, I didn't spend my time whining about it.

Because the truth is - you never really know how a leader will turn out and can hope for the best.

No one likes a whiner and people tune them out in very short order.

KC said...

Funny Rural Sandi - I wouldnt have thought we needed a rule in the constitution saying that a candidate for leadership cant be appointed interim leader given that it has NEVER to my knowledge happened. Usually the party has enough respect for democracy that they dont make that choice.

The last refuge for folks who want to hide some injustice--such as the undemocratic selection of a leader--is to call those who dissent whiners.

Dion was chosen through the legitimate process for choosing leaders in the Liberal Party. The executive did an end run around that process for Ignatieff. The two arent even remotely the same.

Steve V said...

"Dion was chosen through the legitimate process for choosing leaders in the Liberal Party. The executive did an end run around that process for Ignatieff. The two arent even remotely the same."

Oh spare me. I voted for a Kennedy delegate, with absolutely no say in where that person went. You had blocs of delegates, you had ex-officos, you had all sorts of back room nonsense, and yet you people actually call that "legitimate", just because that's the way it's done. Please, please, please, one of the silliest philosophical arguments is saying Ignatieff gamed the system, when we all know full well it STUNK anyways. You said yourself Ignatieff probably would have won, and at least this time it would have been a clear expression, so get over it. EVERYONE with half a brain realized, that under the circumstances, there needed to be a resolution to the leadership. I'm sorry that common sense got in the way of your chance to tarnish the eventual leader. But, hey at least now you can be bitter and morally indignant for eternity. Good stuff.

Steve V said...

"Dion was chosen through the legitimate process for choosing leaders in the Liberal Party. "

And, just one more point here. If we went by grassroots extension, and ALL the delegates showed up, Kennedy would have been ahead of Dion, based on the VOTES. Better attendance, and more PARTY HACKS put Dion ahead of Kennedy. So, if you want to go by the grassroots expression, Dion the "legitimate" leader would have been GONE on the first ballot. That's how it should have went, if there was a semblance of LIBERAL VOTER want.

In_The_Centre said...

But, hey at least now you can be bitter and morally indignant for eternity. Good stuff.

Thank you. Im sorry guys, but circumstances changed when coalition talk picked up, and the thought of a government led by a roundly rejected leader by the Canadian public started creating a vicious backlash within and outside the party.

Perhaps some of you so called grassroots need to tune into to see how desperate the situation was after the election, and there was no way that a politically damaged Dion could have stayed on with the possibility of another election looming so soon. (and yes, based on the governor general agreeing to prorogue parliament, there is no chance in hell she would ask the coalition to actually form government). We lost almost 1.2 million dollars in immediate subsidy funding, have been reduced to a Toronto only party and had our own Stockwell Day in charge.

A caretaker leader…would be someone we could not go into an election with, so we would lose our one piece of leverage over Harper, “ a coalition if necessary…but not necessarily coalition” on Jan 27th.

I almost wished the CPC had a majority, then we could have done things properly, but the dynamics and facts, as they are today, necessitated rapid action.

If you have a problem with the party taking dramatic action to ensure its collective survival (as most in the party see it), that’s what Vancouver is for. Register as a delegate and vote against Ignatieff, you have that voice. In the meanwhile, we are close to doubling VF and Laurier club memberships out here. Ill get back to work.

-ITC

KC said...

Steve - I am prepared to acknowledge the shortcomings in the Liberal leadership process but with respect there is a world of difference between a constitutionalized process whereby every party member is given an opportunity to vote, and stand for election as a delegate with the leader ultimately chosen by 4000 Liberal members as compared to less than 200 Liberal elites (many of whom had already made their preference known) making the unprecedented choice of making a standing candidate for leader as interim leader.

There was a narrative that was created by Ignatieff supporters in particular that leadership HAD to be resolved. Im sorry but you cant just do an end run around the usual process because you decide it has to be decided. There was a process in place that needed to be respected. A neutral third party could have managed just fine in the interim, but the Ignatieff people saw Rae's jugular and went for it.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Steve: I am not sure what I said made you think I believe Ignatieff's appointment is at odds with grassroots.

The purpose of this post was to illustrate that Liberals tend to reason backwards and not forwards. That only after a result do we determine if the process was right or not.

Michael Ignatieff was appointed de facto leader. For the first time in Liberal history did the party elites choose this path.

I am not going to wait for a victory or a loss to judge what's right or wrong.

RuralSandi: I think you should take your own advice.

You can label my posts and others comments if that makes it easier for you, but that's no way to hold a discussion.

Gerry said...

I was an elected Gerard Kennedy delegate in 2006. When Gerard dropped off the ballot, I bucked the trend and voted for Bob Rae. On the final ballot I voted for St├ęphane Dion. I am now very proud to line up behind Michael Ignatieff. He has demonstrated his leadership meddle and he would have easily won a contested leadership contest. He got the leadership the way he did because neither Bob Rae ( a man for whom I have great respect) nor Dominic LeBlanc had a realistic chance of beating him. He is the right leader for the Liberal Party. That's why the establishment has lined-up behind him and its is why the gressroots has embraced it. The few of you who can't except this fact should move on. You are of no use to the Liberal cause in your myopic frame of mind.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Gerry: I was a Kennedy delegate. After GK dropped off I was only 1 of 4 GK Youth delegates not to follow him. I am told I was the only one to go to Iggy.

Your argument that Iggy is right because Party elites appointed him is severely flawed when you grant the fact party elites are not gods nor are their opinions more valuable then ours.

As for your suggestion that the grassroots have embraced Iggy I'd like to know on what basis you form this opinion on? When one considers the last true absolute series of polls within the Liberal party Iggy had negative growth (leadership 2006) I am at a loss for your rationale.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Gerry: I would also ask what are you suggesting when you endorse "The few of you who can't except this fact should move on."?